Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Red-footed Cannibalfly’

In the insect world, Red-footed Cannibalflies (Promachus rufipes) are fearsome predators. Yesterday I spotted one at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia that appeared to be subduing a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe) that it had just captured.

What happens next? Wikipedia describes the tactics of a robber fly, the family to which the Red-footed Cannibalfly belongs, in these words:  “The fly attacks its prey by stabbing it with its short, strong proboscis  injecting the victim with saliva containing neurotoxic and proteolytic enzymes which very rapidly paralyze the victim and soon digest the insides; the fly then sucks the liquefied material through the proboscis.”

Yikes!

red-footed cannibalfly subdues hummingbird moth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Although it looks a bit like a tug of war, I think that these two Red-footed Cannibalflies (Promachus rufipes) actually were mating when I spotted them on Friday at Huntley Meadows Park. (Don’t ask me any anatomical questions–I am not sure how it works for them.)

This photo was taken from a pretty good distance away with my 150-600mm lens and is a little soft, but I thought I’d post it today as an accompaniment to my earlier macro shot of what I think is a female Red-footed Cannibalfly.

mating Red-footed Cannibalflies

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

A Red-footed Cannibalfly (Promachus rufipes) is one of the coolest and creepiest insects that you can encounter in the wild. A type of robber fly, Red-footed Cannibalflies usually feed on other insects, but they reportedly are capable of taking down a hummingbird. I spotted this “beauty” during a visit this past weekend to McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville, Maryland after a fellow photographer pointed it out to me.

Red-footed Cannibalflies are special to me for an unusual reason—a posting that I did about one in August 2013 has proven to be my most widely viewed normal blog posting over time. (I did have a couple of postings about the rescue of an injured bald eagle that received a huge boost in readership when linked in local media reports, but that spike was  a one-time occurrence and I tend to exclude those posts in my calculations.) The enduring popularity of that posting is a bit of a mystery to me. Yes, the subject is fascinating, but the accompanying photos are not really my best work.

Why then do I keep getting viewers for this posting? The posting, for example, had 512 views in 2015 and 612 views in 2016. During this year, there have already been 211 views, including 39 in August. I don’t know what kind of algorithms Google and the other search engines use in deciding how to rank order listings when searches are conducted, but somehow I have frequently made it onto the first page of the listings when a search is done for “red-footed cannibalfly.”

I receive offers all of the time for something called Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that promises me that, after I have paid a fee, my posting will rise higher on the Google results.  I am not sure that it would be possible for me to get any higher on the list than I already am—I think that my posting has on occasion been as high as fourth on the Google results.

I am a little amused that my name may have become associated with Red-footed Cannibalflies in the minds of some viewers after a Google search. On the whole, readership statistics remain a mystery to me. I can sometimes guess which of my postings will have a good number of viewers when originally posted, but I am clueless in figuring out which ones will have additional views after a couple of days have passed.

For better or for worse, my postings seem to have a life of their own. I never know when or how a viewer somewhere in the world may stumble across my words and images. Wow! How cool is that?

Red-footed Cannibalfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

How do you measure popularity? WordPress keeps track of a lot of different statistics and one measure of a post’s popularity is the number of times that it has been viewed. For most of my blog postings, the majority of views come within a few days of the posting date. Occasionally I’ll have a few additional views when someone else posts a link to my post.

When I did a posting in November 2014 on the rescue of an injured bald eagle that I witnessed, a few news outlets in Washington D.C. ran a story with my photos and links to my blog. That posting has had 3396 view to date, far and away the most views for a single posting. In some ways I consider that post an anomaly, with much of the activity caused by the newsworthiness of the event that I photographed.

When it comes to “normal” posting, one that I did almost exactly three years ago stands head and shoulders above all others with 1327 views, including 244 within the last thirty days. The posting was simply called Red-Footed Cannibalfly and it has remained remarkably popular over an extended period of time. In fact, if you do a search for “Red-footed Cannibalfly” in Google, my posting has risen to the first page of results, occasionally rising as high as third place.

A lot of the spam I receive in WordPress informs me that  there is a secret to getting your material higher in Google search results using Search Engine Optimization and the senders undoubtedly want me to pay them to share the secret with me. Sorry, guys, I seem to have stumbled on it by myself, though I am not sure I could replicate that success.

I was thinking about all of this yesterday when I spotted a Red-footed Cannibalfly (Promachus rufipes) while wandering about Huntley Meadows Park. I’d hesitate to call a Red-footed Cannibalfly beautiful, but there is something fierce and distinctive about its appearance and I love its macabre moniker. I captured this image from a distance with a long telephoto lens and I am happy that I didn’t get close enough for one to land on me—I can’t help but remember that this insect paralyzes its victims, liquefies their insides, and then sucks up the liquefied material.

The Red-footed Cannibalfly may be a bit creepy, but seems to be quite popularwith a lot of folks, judging from my blog statistics.

Red-footed Cannibalfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

I never realized that I was surrounded by cannibals. No, I did not discover a pile of skulls or a string of shrunken heads, but almost every time recently that I have gone out into my local marsh, I have spotted Red-footed Cannibalflies (Promachus rufipes).

These insects are big and they buzz as they fly by me, so they are hard to miss. I have read that they are vicious predators, but I had never caught one red-handed with prey (or perhaps I should say red-footed) until yesterday. I can’t quite identify the prey, but it looks like it might be some kind of small bee. If so, it wouldn’t bee too surprising, given that one of the nicknames for this species in the “Bee Panther.”

I know that I shouldn’t be worried about these cannibals, but a slight chill went through me yesterday when one of these insects landed on the lenshood of my camera and looked up at me, looking very much like he was sizing me up

Red-footed Cannibalfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

As I was walking through my local marsh yesterday, I caught sight of a giant flying insect. Upon closer examination, it proved to be a pair of mating Red-footed Cannibalflies  (Promachus rufipes).

They eventually settled on a leaf, just above eye level. It was a heavily vegetated area and it was tough getting a clear line of sight and a good angle of view (and standing on my tiptoes probably is not an optimal shooting position). This first shot was the only one I got where both of these giant insects were in focus.

At a certain point of time, one of them, which I suspect was the female, tried to escape and I got the second shot, capturing an unusual moment in time. In the original version, the background was mostly light colored, but there were some ugly smudges of greenish gray.  I tried to remove them hastily in post processing to highlight better the subjects, but I noted that I didn’t do a very good job when, after the fact, I looked at the posting on a computer screen, vice my laptop, on which it was composed..

The second shot seems to be begging for a clever caption. Does anyone have a suggestion?

 

Mating Red-footed Cannibalflies

Matting Red-footed Cannibalflies

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

There is something both creepy and compelling about the fearsomely-named Red-footed Cannibalfly (Promachus rufipes). I first spotted one last summer and noted in a posting that these insects, sometimes referred to as Bee Panthers, are reported to be capable of taking down a hummingbird.

I caught sight of this specimen earlier this week as I was making my way along a creek in the back area of my local marsh, searching for the equally fierce Dragonhunter dragonfly (Hagenius brevistylus). The Dragonhunter is a very large dragonfly that, as its name suggests, specializes in hunting other dragonflies (along with bees, wasps, and butterflies).

The Red-footed Cannibalfly is part of a larger group of giant robber flies of the genus Promachus, a name that in Greek means “who leads in battle,” according to Wikipedia. I am fairly confident of my identification, but would welcome any corrections from more experienced insect hunters.

Be sure to look carefully at the claws on the front legs in the image. I am sure that it’s almost impossible to escape when this predator sinks those claws into you and injects you with a toxin that paralyzes you and liquifies your insides.

As one blogger so eloquently put it, “Be thankful these insects aren’t the size of Sandhill Cranes.”

Red-footed Cannibalfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »